Stuart Lancaster has announced his first squad as England head coach and it has a distinct youthful feel to it.
With Lewis Moody and Jonny Wilkinson both retiring from international duty gives chances to one or two players as do injuries to several key players but with no place in the squad for Mike Tindall, Nick Easter and Mark Cueto the suggestion is that Lancaster will be starting afresh and looking to the future during his tenure as coach, however short it may end up being.
The biggest name of any of the debutants is Owen Farrell, son of England coach and former Great Britain Rugby League star Andy, who has impressed so far this season at centre for Saracens. Other high profile debutants include Ben Morgan from the Scarlets and Northampton trio Calum Clark, Phil Dowson and Lee Dickson.
The squad’s captain is expected to be named in the next few weeks and the names which stand out as favourites for the role are back rowers, Tom Wood and Chris Robshawe. Wood has become an established member of England’s side over the last year whilst Robshawe has only won one cap so far, but has impressed in his leadership at Harlequins in their spectacular start to the domestic season.
Lancaster has gone on the record saying he wants “to use this Six Nations as an opportunity to develop the next players in those positions and develop a leadership group that is strong and wants to be the best”.
Lancaster is clearly looking beyond this spring’s tournament with the emphasis on building a squad that will be ready for the 2015 World Cup in England. He has knowledge of the youngsters from his role as Saxons Head Coach, and his involvement in player development at all levels.
This squad is packed with youth and may take a time to gel, but it is a much more forward thinking approach than any England have had since the days of Sir Clive Woodward and the 2003 World Cup win.
England kick-off the tournament against their Auld enemy, with the latest England Scotland rugby betting suggesting England will have a tough battle on their hands.